Film Review: Keanu

Keanu Poster

Keanu Plot Summary:

After his new cat, Keanu, is kidnapped, Rell (Jordan Peele) and Clarence (Keegan-Michael Key) leave their sheltered lives and infiltrate a dangerous Los Angeles gang in order to get their beloved cat back in this action comedy.

I have a lot of respect for this comedy as it breaks the tradition of many crap comedies we see today that go for cheap gags and mediocre laughs. It’s clear Key and Peele are talented comedians, as is evidenced by their show. I wish I could say I enjoyed this more. It’s solid. I got big laughs. This movie was right on the cusp, but the writers stopped just short at making a great comedy. It’s sloppy.  The direction is a mess. It’s confused about what genre it’s supposed to be at times.  The best I can say about it though is that the good outweighs the bad.

Keanu pic 1

Key and Peele play Clarence and Rell respectively. Clarence is the boring suburban dad who has no excitement in his life, while Rell plays his out of work cousin who smokes pot all day. The first fifteen minutes are very funny. It’s clear these guys have a great chemistry with funny banter back and forth. It’s when the actual plot starts where the film begins to slow down. These guys become too similar, and one is clearly funnier than the other, that being Key as the uptight Clarence. Even though Key is very funny in the movie, this quickly turns into one joke for the next forty minutes. Yes, it’s the soccer dad acting like a big time gangster. That’s the film in a nut shell. It gets old real fast.  You get jokes like Clarence and a gang of criminals singing George Michael. While that sounds funny on paper, it’s fairly generic.

While the film stops short in the middle, it fortunately picks back up. They finally get more clever with the jokes, including a very funny drug scene. We’ve seen straight-laced characters have bad trips a hundred times, but this was very original. They also do a good job of parodying crime movies, but almost too well. The film is so melodramatic at times, which is the joke, but it commits to the material so much that it leaves the comedy in the dust.

Aside from Key and Peele, the performances are hit and miss. The main romantic interest, played by Tiffany Haddish, has a good chemistry with Peele, and there are definitely some funny cameos, including Will Forte and Luis Guzman. There’s also an odd Anna Faris scene. This is where the bad directing comes in. There was definitely a hilarious scene in here, but the tone is all over the place. Peter Atencio directed this, who’s worked with the comedy duo before, but it could have benefited from a more seasoned director.

This is a frustrating movie, because all the pieces were here for a hilarious Beverly Hills Cop-esque romp. You’ve got a good duo, solid supporting roles and everything with the adorable little cat worked in spades. It needed another pass at the script, and stronger direction. The ending is way too drawn out, and the dialogue is hit or miss. It’s a solid effort, and I’d love to see these guys get another crack at films, as I’m sure they learned a lot of lessons.

Rating: 7 out of 10 (Good)

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Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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